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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Biden will make first presidential visit to the Middle East

President Joe Biden will soon make his first presidential visit to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia, the White House announced on Tuesday – a visit that analysts say seeks to normalize Israel’s relations with its neighbors in a complex region. May proceed with the delicate process. of strategic importance to Washington.

The four-day visit will begin in Israel in mid-July, where Biden will meet with Israeli leaders. He will also hold talks with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to express his support for a two-state solution between the two sides.

From Israel he heads to Jeddah, the Saudi city seen as the gateway to Islam’s two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic ties and this will be the first direct flight from Israel by a US president to an Arab state that the country has not recognized since former President Donald Trump’s historic 2017 flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv. gives.

A view of old buildings in Jeddah’s Red Sea city centre. President Biden is expected to meet with more than a dozen leaders during his stay there.

In Jeddah, he will meet the leaders of that oil-rich kingdom – not only his direct counterpart, the old, ailing king – but also the Crown Prince, who is seen as a key driver of policy and as the de facto leader of the world’s one is seen. The last absolute monarchy.

“The President is going to see over a dozen leaders on this visit, including those led by King Salman and our Saudi hosts. [Gulf Cooperation Council plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan] summit,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “Yes, we can expect the President to see the Crown Prince as well.”

Brian Cutulis, vice president of policy at the Middle East Institute, said Biden’s meetings could have some effect.

“I think the main thing is to see how President Biden and his team try to stabilize relations between the United States and Israel, as well as Saudi Arabia, and then their diplomatic outreach with other major Arab countries.” broadens it,” he told VOA.

Washington is engaged in quiet diplomacy to expand the Abrahamic Agreement, the Trump administration agreement to Arab states to normalize relations with Israel. Ultimately, Israel and Saudi Arabia are moving toward normalization, but this is unlikely to be announced during Biden’s visit, Cutulis said, adding that progress on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians is needed before the Saudis can consider normalization. Is.

“I think that road is probably quite a long one. And I would be surprised if we see some major success on that front,” he said.

With no sign of either side agreeing to concessions, the prospects for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians remain bleak.

While Biden has reversed some of Trump’s policies seen as hostile to the Palestinians, including restoring financial aid and resuming diplomatic contacts, he has maintained US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. and the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Since coming into office, Biden has not pressed for a halt to Israel’s settlement expansion, despite criticism of the policy during his time as vice president in the Obama administration.

File - Turkish Writer Hatice Cengiz, Saudi Journalist And Fiancee Of Dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Poses Next To A Portrait Of Khashoggi After Unveiling A Portrait Of Him At The National Mall On October 1, 2021 In Washington

FILE – Turkish writer Hatice Cengiz, Saudi journalist and fiancee of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, poses next to a portrait of Khashoggi after unveiling a portrait of him at the National Mall on October 1, 2021 in Washington

Khashoggi’s murder

Biden’s meetings with the Saudis are also particularly fraught, said John Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, over his alleged involvement in the gruesome murder of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, one of his biggest critics. The reason, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As a presidential candidate, Biden pledged to “pay the price, and make him, indeed, pariah” to the Saudi leadership over the 2018 killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

“But this is not the totality of the US government’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,” Alterman told VOA via Zoom. “We have ties with governments that do terrible things to millions of their citizens,” he said, adding that he was “disturbed by the horrific murder and butchering of Jamal Khashoggi,” whom Alterman knew personally, a As for government, “we have to think more broadly about how this fits into the broader context.”

File - Sen. Ron Wyden At A Senate Finance Committee Hearing On Capitol Hill June 30, 2020 In Washington.

FILE – Sen. Ron Wyden at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Capitol Hill June 30, 2020 in Washington.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asked Biden on accountability for those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, as well as “the murder of Portland’s Fallon Smart and other victims of Saudi civilians.” Urged to insist. Americans who have fled from justice.” Fifteen-year-old Smart was murdered in 2016 by 20-year-old student Abdulharman Samir Noorah, a Saudi national who fled to Saudi Arabia despite his passport being confiscated.

“The United States cannot value Saudi oil more than the blood of Fallen Smart and Jamal Khashoggi,” Wyden said. “America is not made more secure by legitimizing authoritarians like Mohammed bin Salman, who have defended perpetrators of violence against Americans and manipulated oil markets to lure American consumers.”

The administration said Biden would discuss a number of other issues with Saudi leaders, including UN mediation in Yemen as well as “expanding regional economic and security cooperation, including new and promising infrastructure and climate initiatives.” , as well as preventing threats from Iran. , advancing human rights, and ensuring global energy and food security.”

“There is a lot on the US-Saudi agenda,” Alterman said. “I think what the president is trying to do on the visit is to really widen the aperture and lay the foundation for a broader cooperative relationship with Saudi Arabia – the Saudis want a broader cooperative relationship with the United States.”

But this will depend on careful diplomacy and skillful statesmanship on all sides. Last week, the VOA asked Biden whether he would move to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia – one to the spirit of Judaism, the other to the spirit of Islam. The two monotheistic religions have been embroiled in conflict in this area for hundreds of years.

Biden replied with a laugh, “We’ll see.”

Patsi Vidkuswara contributed to this report.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

World Nation News Desk
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